Skip to main content
padlock icon - secure page this page is secure

Potash Production in Northern Sweden: History and Ecological Effects of a Pre-industrial Forest Exploitation

Buy Article:

$21.07 + tax (Refund Policy)

Potash (potassium carbonate; K2CO3) was one of the most important industrial chemicals in Europe prior to the 20th century. It was obtained from wood-ash from broadleaved trees, which was refined in several steps into the pure chemical. The production primarily took place in the periphery of Europe, in Russia and in the United states. In Sweden, potash was produced in the southern parts on a larger scale from the 17th century. In northern Sweden the production started in the early 19th century, reached considerable proportions within a few decades, and then ceased completely in the 1860s. The trees used were primarily birches (Betula pubescens and B. pendula). Previous research on the subject of Swedish potash production has concluded that the production ceased due to shortage of raw material.

Through studies of historical records and experimental potash production we challenge these conclusions. In our opinion potash production in northern Sweden lost out to German producers who started to produce potash industrially at the same time that production in northern Sweden ceased. The ecological significance of the potash production is difficult to estimate, primarily because the impact caused by this form of forest exploitation is obscured by subsequent logging and other human activities. Nevertheless, the removal of large old broadleaved trees was one important step in the large-scale transformation of the forest landscape which has influenced the structure and function of north Swedish forest ecosystems.
No Reference information available - sign in for access.
No Citation information available - sign in for access.
No Supplementary Data.
No Article Media
No Metrics

Keywords: Sweden; competition; deforestation; nineteenth century; potash production

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: October 1, 1998

More about this publication?
  • Environment and History is an interdisciplinary journal which aims to bring scholars in the humanities and biological sciences closer together, with the deliberate intention of constructing long and well-founded perspectives on present day environmental problems.

    Environment and History has a Journal Impact Factor (2019) of 0.698. 5 Year Impact Factor: 0.806.
  • Information for Authors
  • Submit a Paper
  • Subscribe to this Title
  • Membership Information
  • Ingenta Connect is not responsible for the content or availability of external websites
  • Access Key
  • Free content
  • Partial Free content
  • New content
  • Open access content
  • Partial Open access content
  • Subscribed content
  • Partial Subscribed content
  • Free trial content
Cookie Policy
X
Cookie Policy
Ingenta Connect website makes use of cookies so as to keep track of data that you have filled in. I am Happy with this Find out more